A thoughtful and thorough examination of “a neglected dimension of diversity”
As is the case of almost every other important business book, this one is research-driven as indicated by the footnotes on Pages 161-179. In it, Peter Cappelli and Bill Novelli explain how to prepare for what they characterize as “the new organizational order.” Indeed, Peter Drucker would suggest (and I agree) that much of that order is already in place and all of it will be soon.
Of special interest to me is a role reversal in the workplace that is without precedent. It creates unique challenges to which Cappelli and Novelli refer in this excerpt from their Preface: “To oversimplify, younger managers don’t really know how to manage older workers – and older workers don’t know how to get what they need from their younger managers.” They recommend a different approach, o0ne they explain during the course of their rigorous and insightful examination of what they characterize as of a neglected dimension of diversity.”
They address issues associated with business challenges such as these:
o The defining (and unique) characteristics of “the older worker phenomenon”
o Various myths about older workers…and what in fact is true
o The nature of “new business realities” that must be accommodated
o The case for older workers
o How to confront ageism effectively
o How to helper younger supervisors
o How to “craft a better deal” for older workers
o How to make an older workforce “work for you”
Here are three excerpts that are representative of the several dozen passages that caught my eye
“It is certainly true that older individuals use more health care than their younger colleagues. On the other hand, most employers still offer health-care benefits to employees and their dependents. The health-care costs of an employee, therefore, depend not just on their own health-care but on that of their family.” (Page 40)
“Far and away the biggest concern about older workers, reported by 88 percent of respondents in one survey, was not in fact a problem with older workers themselves but a worry about conflicts in the workplace with younger workers. And the punch line is that despite the overall positive attitudes toward their older workers, one-quarter of employers reported that their organization was reluctant to hire any older workers.” (Page 83)
“Much of the difficulty that older workers have getting hired and then functioning successfully in the workplace appears to center on the relationship with younger supervisors, at the point of hiring and then later when work is being done. The heart of the problem centers on leadership styles that are a particularly poor fit with older workers, an authority-driven approach to supervision. It obviously takes two to have a conflict, so why focus so much attention on the younger supervisor? One reason is that they are the ones initiating and defining the relationship. Even in participatory models of management, they ought to be the ones shaping the terms of the relationship. But we shouldn’t let the older workers off the hook, either.” (Pages 114-115)
My own take on all this can be summed up by three points: First, cross-generational collaboration in any organization will improve the process of answering questions, solving problems, and working together in countless other ways. That will require mutual respect and trust that can only be earned over time but must be protected every day. Also, older workers and their younger supervisors must accept the fact that “it isn’t about them” and be willing to subordinate their preferences to what is best for everyone involved. Finally, perhaps (just perhaps) a multi-generational workforce whose members are — in Cappelli and Novelli’s words — “coming together and working toward a common vision with shared goals” will encourage cross-generational interaction and cooperation (if not collaboration) in other segments of contemporary society.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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In a volatile world, anxiety and uncertainty make people a little testy.
Cranky people can drag everyone else down by spreading negativity and sowing seeds of doubt just when leaders need commitment. And when everyday crankiness is exacerbated by performance problems, then the merely grumpy can become disgruntled former employees out to do damage to the team.
Early in my career, when sharing a vacation house with a group of friends, I learned an important lesson from a classic book by anthropologist Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: It takes a lot of people cooperating to keep things neat, but it takes only one disgruntled dirt-monger to mess things up. The task for everyone else is not to let them.
This has become a favorite management insight as I advise bosses and boards. In one recent case, the chief financial officer of a small company was fired for possible expense account violations, and he was also seen as a poor strategist and weak team player. The former CFO did not go quietly. He consulted a lawyer, then went to a second and a third when the first one said he didn’t have a case. He rallied friends who sent emails to prominent customers about his grievance. Meanwhile, the CEO and new CFO had to raise capital and revenues to make up for the shortfall, which the disgruntled former CFO blamed on everyone else. His loud voice and tale of mistreatment threatened to topple the entire enterprise.
When faced with cranky, grumpy, or disgruntled people, these Do’s and Don’ts can be helpful.
[Here are five of the nine. To read the complete article, please click here.]
1. Don’t give them power. Don’t let their claims occupy disproportionate time and management attention. Have one person manage so that everyone else can continue the real work.
2. Do keep telling your positive story about the organization’s purpose, mission, goals, and accomplishments. Remind everyone about the big picture.
3. Don’t adopt an angry tone. Stay calm and professional. Don’t stoop to their level by telling juicy stories. Recent studies show that badmouthing makes the tale-teller look bad, in a boomerang effect.
4. Don’t tell their story for them. Don’t start meetings or conversations by rehashing the situation. Stick to a simple statement or two that acknowledges your sorrow that there are complaints. Don’t sound defensive. Don’t lend credibility by providing your answers to things that audiences might not know or care about.
5. Don’t assume that being right is enough. Having the facts on your side might be enough in a court of law, but it is not necessarily enough in the court of public opinion. Other people are convinced by your actions. They need to see that you operate by principles. They will judge your authenticity and consistency.
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Above all, do what’s right for the mission and stakeholders. Even in a volatile world that requires tough decisions, the best way to counter crankiness is through an inspiring, energizing purpose.
[Note: I cannot resist citing again what Herb Kelleher, former chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, said when explaining the airline’s spectacular success: "We take great care of our people, our people take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders."]
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Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.
Enjoy the pleasure of her company and the magic of her mind
As is my custom when a new year begins, I recently re-read this book and The Collaborative Habit. The insights that Twyla Tharp shares in them are, if anything, more valuable now than when the books were first published.
It would be a mistake to ignore the reference to “habit” in their titles because almost three decades of research conducted by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University clearly indicate that, on average, at least 10,000 hours of must be invested in “deliberate,” iterative practice under strict and expert supervision to achieve peak performance, be it playing a game such as chess or playing a musical instrument such as the violin. Natural talent is important, of course, as is luck. However, with rare exception, it takes about ten years of sustained, focused, supervised, and (yes) habitual practice to master the skills that peak performance requires.
Tharp characterizes this book as a “”practical guide” but she also frames much of its material within a spiritual context. The creative process can probably be traced back to the earliest humans and yet so much of it remains a mystery. When Henri Matisse was asked if he was always painting, he replied, “No but when the muse visits me, I better have a brush in my hand.” Of course, he was also prepared to transform an in inspiration into a work of art…and did on countless occasions.
In the first chapter, Tharp acknowledges what she characterizes as “a philosophical tug of war…It is the perennial debate, born in the Romantic era, between the beliefs that all creative acts are born of (a) some transcendent, inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration, a kiss from God on your brow that allows you to give the world The Magic Flute, or (b) hard work.” She adds, “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Throughout the remainder of her book, Tharp draws heavily upon her own personal as well as professional experiences (she would probably not make that distinction) while citing countless examples of other real-world situations that indicate “There are no ‘natural’ geniuses.” However, there are immensely creative people in every domain of human initiative. Therein, I think, is her primary purpose: To convince everyone who reads this book that they can be creative if they are willing to work hard enough.
Here is a representative selection of what she affirms:
o “In order to be creative you have to know how to be creative.”
o “Build up your tolerance for solitude.”
o “Trust your muscle memory” when physically exercising.
o “If you’re like me, reading is the first line of defense against an empty head.”
o “You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work.”
o “Work with the best.”
o “Never have a favorite weapon.” (Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of the Five Rings, circa 1645)
o “Build a bridge to the next day.”
o “Know when to stop tinkering.”
o “Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself.”
There is so much of enduring (and endearing) value in the book worth noting. Perhaps (just perhaps) this brief commentary helps to explain why I read The Creative Habit and The Collaborative Habit at least once a year and consult passages in them more often. Oscar Wilde once advised, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Those who require proof of that need look no further than Twyla Tharp whose career is her art…and whose art is her life.
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Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers, began her career in 1965, and has created more than 130 dances for her company as well as for the Joffrey Ballet, The New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. She has won two Emmy awards for television’s Baryshnikov by Tharp program, and a Tony Award for the Broadway musical Movin’ Out. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1993 and was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997. She lives and works in New York City. Her books include Push Comes to Shove: An Autobiography (1992) as well as The Creative Habit and, more recently, The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together, also published by Simon & Schuster (2009). The last two are available in a paperbound edition.
People Prefer to Work with People That They Like – (a Lesson from Guy Kawasaki about “How to Interact Well” with Clients & Customers)
“Likable” — having qualities that bring about a favorable regard
So, I was talking to a consultant this morning. He has a client who provides a very common product – something that companies can buy from others, and they buy it constantly. So, they need to “set themselves apart,” and “product” is not the way to do this. Their product really is too common. He said that they need to get better at simple “customer interactions.” They need to learn “how to interact well” with their customers. This is a good, simple, clear phrase – “customer interactions.”
So, do you interact well with your customers?
I thought back through the books I have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and remembered a section in Guy Kawasaki’s terrific book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. The chapter headings alone in this book provide quite a “how to improve relations” agenda.
Chapter 2: How to Achieve Likeability
Chapter 3: How to Achieve Trustworthiness
Chapter 4: How to Prepare
Chapter 5: How to Launch
Chapter 6: How to Overcome Resistance
Chapter 7: How to Make Enchantment Endure
Chapter 10: How to Enchant Your Employees
Chapter 11: How to Use Enchant Your Boss
But it is chapter 2 that is especially useful for this issue: Chapter 2: How to Achieve Likeability. Here are some of the points, the steps to take to achieve likability:
• dress for a tie
• perfect your handshake
• use the right words (simple; active voice; short; common, unambiguous analogies)
• accept others
• get close
• don’t impose your values
• pursue and project your passions
• find shared passions (assume everyone has passions)
• create win-win situations
• default to yes
Think about it. If you are not likable, if your employees are not likable – there is a pretty good chance your clients and customers won’t like you. And people really do prefer to work with and work for people that they like.
So, how do you interact well? Being more likable is a good place to start.
And, being likable is an ongoing quest. As Guy Kawasaki put it, you have to “start over tomorrow with the enchanting job. And do it every single day… forever!”
You can purchase my synopsis of Enchantment, with handout + audio, at our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.